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Iraqi Aircraft Crashes; Operations Continue Throughout Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2005 – An Iraqi air force aircraft with four U.S. personnel and one Iraqi on board crashed today in the eastern part of Iraq's Diyala province, U.S. military officials in Baghdad reported.

The crash was reported to the Joint Communications Center in Khaniqin at noon, officials said. Coalition forces in the area responded to the crash site and have secured the immediate area. However, on-site officials are withholding the names, status and units of on-board personnel pending further investigation. No further details were available.

In other news from Iraq, soldiers from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) killed several terrorists and captured four people suspected of anti-Iraqi activities in northern Iraq May 29 in combined operations with Iraqi security forces. U.S. soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment were attacked by terrorists while conducting a raid in northern Anbar province.

The U.S. soldiers and others from the Iraqi army "quickly overwhelmed the enemy," according to a coalition news release. Following the attack, the units also discovered a weapons cache inside the building the terrorists had used.

Elsewhere, coalition troops from Regimental Combat Team 2 and Iraqi security forces completed Operation New Market on May 29. The operation was initiated in the early morning hours of May 25 and focused on disrupting insurgent activity in Haditha and the surrounding area.

Approximately 1,000 Iraqi and coalition troops participated in the operation, which was launched in response to increased anti-Iraqi activity. Coalition and ISF troops had discovered a higher-than-normal frequency of roadside bombs and noticed terrorists using outlying areas of Haditha to launch mortar attacks against Iraqi citizens, coalition forces, and utility infrastructure, officials said.

Earlier this month, violence peaked when terrorists detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device next to the Haditha hospital. In the aftermath of the ensuing firefight, coalition forces discovered that terrorists had physically taken over portions of the hospital and constructed bunkered fighting positions. The terrorists caused major structural damage to the hospital, placing significant strain on health care in the Haditha region, according to U.S. officials.

Over the course of Operation New Market, "a significant number" of terrorists were killed, and dozens are being held and questioned, U.S. officials said. Iraqi and coalition forces also seized numerous weapons caches and munitions, including assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and a buried cache consisting of more than 300 82mm high-explosive mortar projectiles. Coalition casualties were said to be light.

In a separate operation, multinational forces acting on intelligence sources and tips provided by Iraqi citizens conducted simultaneous raids in the Rahwah and Karabilah regions to capture or kill terrorists affiliated with Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Multiple sources of intelligence indicated elements of Zarqawi's network, including key lieutenants, suicide bombers, and a contingent of foreign fighters, were operating in the area. Multinational forces engaged and destroyed these targets, U.S. officials said.

Operations against suspected foreign-fighter strongholds resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen terrorists and foreign fighters. Specifically, the bodies of three Saudis and one Moroccan have been identified, and others are being sought within the destroyed buildings.

Coalition forces also destroyed car bombs, bomb-making material, and eight buildings that contained large weapons caches, including explosives, small arms, hand and rocket-propelled grenades, and a large amount of ammunition -- including armor-piercing 7.62 mm rifle rounds.

In yet another operation, Task Force Baghdad soldiers captured 15 terror suspects in three early-morning raids conducted throughout the capital May 28. The biggest operation netted 10 suspected terrorists in the Yusafiyah district of southern Baghdad.

In east Baghdad, a tip from an Iraqi citizen prevented an attack. During a routine patrol, a farmer approached members of Task Force Baghdad's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, with information on the location of roadside bomb. The farmer told the soldiers he had seen terrorists emplace the bomb. The soldiers expressed their appreciation to the farmer and secured the roadside bomb.

"This event shows that the population continues to turn away from the terrorists. I am grateful that the people care enough to provide us the tips that are helping us to defeat the terrorists," U.S. Army Maj. Paul Reese, executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, said. "There is no question in my mind that the farmer who provided the tip today saved the lives of our soldiers."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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